"An Ether Fizz," Spider called to the Dreg behind the bar, "for our fearless Kell."

Spider sat on his makeshift throne at the back of The Ether Tank, surveying his tiny fiefdom. He beckoned Mithrax to approach.

"To what do we owe the honor of your presence, Mithrax-kell?" Spider asked loudly, over-pronouncing the Human version of his name. "Surely you have more important people to see than a humble entrepreneur like myself. Those at the top of the Tower, for instance."

Mithrax noted a few sharp scoffs amongst the crowd at Spider's mention of the Tower.

"I wish to make clear the rules of the Eliksni Quarter," Mithrax said, "so that there are no… misunderstandings."

"Of course," Spider proclaimed with faux deference. "Misunderstandings are how people get… left behind. We wouldn't want that."

Mithrax huffed at Spider's indelicate allusion. His retort was interrupted by a polite chitter at his side. He looked down to see the Dreg from behind the bar proffer a small Ether canister.

Mithrax attached the Ether canister to his rebreather and took a sharp pull. He was pleasantly surprised by the sensation. It was at once filling and effervescent. The House of Light had been living on the most basic Ether for so long that he forgot how delightful such concoctions were. Spider noticed the Kell's appreciation and scoffed.

"So, the rules," he prompted.

"Yes," Mithrax rumbled. "We are not yet welcome by all in the Last City, so we must avoid angering our Human neighbors."

"Agreed," Spider nodded. "The Humans can be… peevish. Especially when you kill dozens of them at a time."

Mithrax ignored the jab and pressed on. "That is why there must be no violence inside the City walls. Ever."

"This is the Eliksni Quarter, is it not?" Spider bristled. "The Eliksni should be free to mete out justice as needed… in our own way."

"I did not say there must be no violence," Mithrax muttered in sotto voce. "Only that it must not happen inside the walls."

Spider nodded at the concession. "Very crafty. Agreed. Is that all?"

"No. That is not all. From today forward, there will be no more docking in your organization." He nodded toward the Dreg behind the bar, whose lower arm stumps were covered with studded leather caps.

"What!" Spider exclaimed. "That's preposterous! Eliksni have been docking Dregs since the Whirlwind—it's tradition!" The crowd murmured restlessly at the prospect of confrontation.

"Not in my House," Mithrax boomed. The room went silent.

Mithrax turned to address the crowd. "I am Kell, and I decree that no Eliksni in the House of Light shall be docked." He turned back to Spider and lowered his voice. "Unless you wish to be the exception to the rule."

Spider chuckled. "There's the Misraaks I knew," he said slyly. "As long as you're still willing to draw blades when the time comes, we'll be just fine."


Category: Book: Between Stolen Stars


IV. A Guiding Hand

Category: Eliksni

IV—Over the Water

IV. A Guiding Hand

Category: Mithrax

IV—Over the Water

I - The Long Drift

Category: Whirlwind